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Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Volume 31, No. 24. October 1, 1968

Muldoon and The Universities

page 5

Muldoon and The Universities

Photo of Robert Muldoon

It would appear from recent statements that Mr Muldoon believes peoples are at University merely to gain degrees, but Universities can educate and widen the experience of students who fail, as well as those who pass.

Mr Muldoon also suggests that we reduce the number of people who enter our universities and fail by raising the entrance qualification. This will not solve the problem.

The entrance is not always a test of a pupil's true ability. There are marginal students who might in this situation miss out on University education altogether. As Parkyn says "there is a large band of talent where ability to predict success or failure is very hard."

A second solution to Mr Muldoon's problem and probably a better one is to build up our technical colleges, such as Polytechnic and Central Institute of Technology. These colleges would cater for education of a different type and at a different level from universities. New Zealanders do not place enough emphasis on this branch of tertiary education. These colleges could cut down the costs of our Universities while providing a form of more relevant higher education.

A third solution, which Mr Muldoon has not, apparently, looked at, involves the teaching ability of the lecturers and the Universsity's method of measuring success and failure. The University examination system is certainly not infallible. Can we just measure a student's ability on his mark in finals, and the two term exams in some subjects. Many students can pass an exam with very little term work but have they then really gained an education? On the other hand we have the student who attends all tutorials and lectures, completes all the term work, but fails the unit. Of the two students the latter has probably received the more beneficial education. Attendance and term work should have greater emphasis in all subjects

Now for the teaching ability of the statf, which leaves much to be desired. Lecturers take their designations too literally. They lecture but they do not teach. They forget that the students do not know basic facts which can clarify a statement or argument. Some are still reading the same lecture notes that they have read for years with no thought towards presentation; their notes have yellowed with age. If lecturers taught the students a basic understanding of their subject, the students would be more likely to succeed and would have a better education. Students are often criticising their lecturers, and these criticism seem to be well-founded. Why are lecturers not given a short course on teaching or presentation?

Finally, tutorials: tutorials are designed for students to understand or question what they have supposedly been taught in lectures. But university tutorials are frequently overcrowded. The tutor clarifies what the majority of the students want clarified but sometimes neglects individual problems. These so-called tutorials have lost their purpose with their increasing size. Tutorial classes should be cut down in size and conducted on a more personal basis.

On the whole, the high rate of failure at universities cannot be attributed to the University Entrance examination but to the teaching within the University. The only way to lessen the number of failures at University is to improve the teaching ability of the staff, and increase salaries as an attraction. Technical Colleges should be extended as an alternative tertiary education on a different level.

— Marylin Jones